Ten days and counting. The hype is building up – or is it?
Over half of SMEs in the London area expect to suffer disruption as a direct result of the Olympics, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Citrix. Furthermore, only one in five small business have a business continuity plan in place, and a paltry 10% of businesses are adopting specific working practices to help minimize disruption during the Olympics. Many companies haven’t even informed staff of an official leave policy for the games.
So if you run a business in the London area, or have staff who commute into or out of London, you need to have a ‘how to survive the Olympics plan’ in place. The Olympics is likely to affect your business in a number of ways:
Disruption to transportation – difficulty getting to and from work
Assess feasible alternative working practices that can mitigate transportation issues, such as :
- Working from home
- Flexible working hours
- Access to the company network from home
- Using personal devices (such as smartphones, home computers, ipads) to connect to the workplace if there are no company laptops available
- Use Skype or conference call facilities to hold meetings.
Higher staff absenteeism
Staff may have tickets to events. Alternatively, they may want to watch certain events from the comfort of their own home. Flexibility on your part will ensure that fewer staff are absent, either through annual leave, sickness or unauthorized absence. Explore the options of arrival at work early or late to miss the rush hour congestion. Manage the holiday timetable to ensure that disproportionate leave isn’t been taken by a small percentage of staff and communicate how much annual leave people are allowed to take.
Furthermore, consider setting up a temporary TV up in the reception area that your staff can watch at lunchtime, or print a schedule of major events that you are willing to have to broadcast in the office. Either way, you need to accept that employees will want to watch Olympics events. By allowing some events to be televised or watched on computers, it will promote goodwill amongst staff and help prevent further absenteeism.
Poor customer service
There is a danger that calls from important clients are missed or that requests for work are not given the appropriate attention due to the distraction of the Olympics. Put in place a communication plan to reassure your clients that you’re looking after them during the Olympic period. As part of this plan, draw up a call schedule for individual members of staff so everyone knows who’s responsible for contacting which client. Your clients may even have specific needs during the Olympics that you aren’t aware of. By being proactive in addressing their specific needs, you are also creating a potential business opportunity.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
You must communicate to your employees the changes and new working practices that you are putting in place – and do it as soon as possible. This will aid with employee buy-in for the changes in working practices as well as minimize any misunderstandings. It also allows you to communicate what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable. If the disruption to “business as usual” is managed properly, the Olympics can be used as a feel-good factor to boost morale and encourage teamwork.
If you think your business is going to be adversely impacted during the Olympic period and would like help to create working practices to suit the needs of your business, email Ines Respini Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org .